Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gun Culture 2.0

There's been a fair amount of electronic ink spilled over what's been termed the Gun Culture 2.0, who are the new-to-the-market shooters, especially the young ones,  that are also embracing shooting and firearms. These are the "hipper" customers with tattoos and piercings, with an alternative lifestyle vibe to their lives. These are probably also some of the same folks that are driving the "paint in day glow lime green and call it Zombie" craze, too. Since one person appeared to ask me what I thought about this movement, here's my opinion.

There's a ton of different angles to the gun culture: hunting, competitive shooting in it's eleventy billion different games with every type of firearm, personal defense, "prepping", plinking, zombie hunting, and perhaps many more that I've never even heard of. Somewhere there's a gun game that a handful of people are having the time of their life playing, and other people who think they're nuts for being into it.

The gun culture 2.0 people are often portrayed as those with full sleeves, gauges, and lots of other body mods. Phil Labonte, a three gun competitor (who seems to shoot pretty dang well) has a day job singing in the metalcore band "All That Remains". AAC, one of the best suppressor makers on the planet, was way out in front of this movement, having their welder Rachel (now in the marketing and advertising dept. as I understand it) in many of their ads. Rachel is what most would call extensively tattooed and her look is usually somewhere between a 40-50's speed shop vibe and a pin up girl. I haven't met her yet, but from what I've heard, she's really cool. Hoping to change that sometime soon; if I can get a minute out of the booth at SHOT I'd like to make that happen.

Hey, Haj, quit boring us and get on with your opinion on the matter! OK, I hear ya. I'll get on with it.

First, tattoos have become pretty mainstream. I don't have one yet, but I'm one of the few people I know of late that doesn't. That'll happen when the population you work with is primarily military. I'm down with tats; the reason I don't have one is simply because I haven't found anything I want to keep forever. They're just not that uncommon and counter-culture anymore. I quit making impressions based on tats a LONG time ago. A lot of America has as well.

I haven't exactly been quiet that what's collectively been called "zombie marketing" is a trend that I find incredibly stupid. There is, however, no doubt that it's a big trend and its driving a LOT of purchases. If people wanna buy that stuff, then by all means, have at it. My employer won't be offering it, but that's simply because that's not what we do. That I support people buying what they want to buy should not be confused with thinking its not dumb.

Having more gun owners is generally a good thing. With the explosion of the availability of CCW permits, there are lots of new customers and enthusiasts that weren't part of the market before. People have apparently gotten to the point where they realize that depending on the State to defend them is bad policy, so they're doing a little something about it. And through that, people are finding that guns and shooting are cool, and they like it a lot, so they're shooting recreationally and collecting guns because they like guns. All that is a good thing.

Where things become of concern to me are in a couple areas: first, there's more to having and carrying a gun than just taking the class that goes over the laws involved and passing an accuracy test that's pretty pathetic in most cases. Second, getting into this segment of activity comes with political implications. There are plenty of politicians that got elected because of, or have a passion for, taking guns away from lawful owners.

Being a responsible gun owner, no matter what type of gun you own, requires being proficient in it's use. America has been called a country of riflemen. Trust me, we're not. We're not born with the ability to shoot, regardless of what the stories you hear are. If you don't practice, you will suck. Additionally, you will not become Audie Murphy when the balloon goes up, you will rise only to the level of training that you've mastered. Read that last sentence again. Not the level of your training, the level of training that you've MASTERED.

How does one solve that? It ain't by "having your buddy that's had a gun forever teaching you how to shoot". What I'm talking about is professional training, from quality trainers. How to find them takes some research, but the info is all out there. Here's one quick way to filter: avoid controversy. There's a ton of recently retired dudes who've been fighting for more than a decade that can teach it to you. When you come across something that looks promising, do your due diligence and check it out, and thoroughly. You aren't doing me any good by having a gun and not being trained nor going months between practicing. You're as likely to shoot me as the guy you intend to. Be professional about it; the criminals out there are criminals for a living. You need to be able to beat them, and fighting fair is for fools.

New shooters and gun owners have GOT to get involved politically. Join the NRA, join other groups that fight for our collective Second Amendment rights, and all the others while we're at it. Call your representatives and tell them how you want them to vote. Even if you "know" how they'll vote, reinforce that with a call to their office. They work for us; get them working for us if they're not already. Be the boss. Politics are a numbers game, and we've got to leave no doubt that if they're going to vote against our wishes, they won't stay in office. YOU MUST GET INVOLVED IN DEFENDING YOUR RIGHTS!

I'm all about bringing new blood into the the gun culture, and I don't care what it is you're into; I support you in it, even if it's that retarded green zombie stuff. Additionally, I support and implore you stretching your horizons. If you're a hunter or some kind of rifle competitor, try competitive shooting with a pistol. Try USPSA, IDPA, bullseye, fast draw...whatever floats your boat. How will you know if you're into it unless you try it? The main reason I'm not into SASS cowboy action shooting is that I simply don't have the money to invest in the guns to do it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Surefire EP7 ear plugs: winner. Who'd a thunk it?

As you probably know by now, I'm a big, big fan of Surefire products. They make great stuff. When the EP3 ear pro came out, I was excited, knowing the quality they build in. However, I had an issue with 'em: my ear canals are too narrow for the EP3 ear flange parts. They worked great, but they felt like they were trying to meet in the middle of my brain. In other words, too uncomfortable for me to use. That bummed me out, but at that point I didn't know I had a narrow ear canal, so I just figured they weren't for me in any way shape or form. Over the summer, I really wanted to wear plugs rather than muffs as even with the gel ear cups they're hot.

Enter a trial pair of the EP7, which is from the same family of ear pro, but with foam ear pieces. The set I was given had the normal, slim normal, and short normal foamie bits (technical term, sorry). Over the past month and a half, I've tried each combination, and found that the slim normal and short normal both worked well for me. I haven't yet determined which I like better, although I find myself using the slim normal foamie bits most often because I "feel" they give the best blocking coverage. More testing is needed, I think. Either way, I'm a big fan of the EP7 and if the other silicone ear pro doesn't fit you correctly, I'm sure these will.
These don't work exactly like electronic ear pro, which is to be expected since that's not what they are. You won't hear as much as you can with electronic ear pro. Again, that's not the same job these do. There's a reason Peltor Comtacs and Sordin Supremes are expensive. These are only about $20, and while you can't run your comms through them, you can hear normal sounds while on the range, which is a whole heck of a lot safer. And they do a fine job of protecting your hearing when rounds are going off. It's a trade off, but more than acceptable, especially compared to the old school foam or silly cone plugs. These get Haji's Seal of Approval.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

sling changes and more

As much as I am enjoying being quite a bit lighter...and getting lighter of the side effects of either the weight loss, medications or both is that I feel weaker. To that end, I decided to revisit the idea of the anchor point to get more rearward pressure while shooting the carbine. I obtained a QD Tango Down vertical grip, which is a great part but more length than I needed or really wanted. I also have a Larue Tactical hand stop, another cool part but proving to be a little small for the giant size of my bear paw hands.

Another thing I noticed is that my rifle, as it was configured, is heavy, even with a Micro on it. I swapped out a Comp M2 for an R1 Micro (really wanted the H1 since I don't have NODs to require a T1, but the price I got on the R1 couldn't be beaten) and already had an M600 on it, but the rifle's still a little over 11 pounds. Here's what she looked like before:
That version worked perfectly fine, and yes of course I still have the Surefire High Capacity Magazine. It was, however, a heavy rifle, so I swapped out the optic for the aforementioned R1. I could save a little more weight by using a lighter mount for it than the Larue LT660, but I'm just too much a fan of the throw lever mount. That lightened the rifle, but not enough:
Yup, that's the lanyard on my camera messing up a moderately decent photo.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this here post, I decided to add a leverage point to be able to pull the rifle into my shoulder with more pressure. First I tried a hand stop, then a vert grip, and tested them both against the slick rail on the timer. Times were about equal between the slick rail and the vert grip, which wasn't as surprising to me as the hand stop being slower than the vert grip. The timer don't lie, so I try to test most if not all changes against it. The only way to be able to definitively say one thing "works for me" better than something else, and not basing it on liking one thing better than another, is to have a way to quantify it, which means empirical data. The timer is the simplest way to do that.

If you don't have a timer, I can't recommend getting one strenuously enough. They're not terribly expensive, and they will definitively tell you what's going on with your shooting. Think you're fast out of the holster, in transition, or with your shot to shot splits? The timer will tell you if what you think is going on is really happening. Ya gotta get one! Surefire's app was still free a few months ago when I downloaded it to my phone. There's really no excuse not to have a timer.

So, back to the topic at hand. I went over to Matt E.'s place last night to hang out, because a transformer blew and turned off the power to my whole neighborhood. Better to hang out on the couch with power than without. Naturally, I brought the carbine along, since that's just what we do. He had a stubby Tango Down vert grip that he wasn't using, so we threw that on the riffle. Matt, as you know by now, absolutely rocks. Since it uses the double lock bar attachment instead of the throw lever, it's a light part in comparison. Today, I removed my Magpul ACS and re-installed my CTR to save more weight. Well, that certainly helped, but there's still the issue that I went to the ACS in the first place for: the CTR is a short stock in comparison, even with the "enhanced" butt pad. Magpul, do me a favor and create a full sized CTR for us normal length armed guys, will ya?

I've trimmed a good bit of weight off my rifle, down to about 8 1/2 pounds now. That's more manageable. And not that I care too much about colors, but it's a blacker black rifle than it used to be. I know the checkerboard rail covers are going to offend some people, so that's a good reason to have 'em that way. Actually, it was just a matter of I did it because I could. Looks fine to me.

 Also note the very cool IO Cover for the Micro. LF'er Joe Chen is developing. Check out Kickstarter to get on board with the funding to get these onto the market. Once they're available to dealers, my plan is for ATS to be among the first, if not the first, to carry these. Simple part to install, and works really well. The caps nest within each other, and it can all be done one handed.  The material the cover is made of was chosen for stability through a wide temperature range and is impervious to common gun solvents. If you have a Micro, you're gonna have to have one of these. Here it is closed:
And here you can see the covers nested together. One interesting thing about the nesting is that if you want it lower, as shown here, move the tabs apart. Want 'em more in the middle, move those tabs closer together.
I'm sure there's something else I should put in this post, but I'll realize that later. As of right now, get yourself to the range!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Changing the sling placement and why

Heard from a guy I know who's a gunfighter for a living about how he runs a sling on his carbine and why, and why my set up was for flat range work. So, being the pragmatist I am, I had to give it another look. Basically, I've moved my sling from a "wide" set up to a "tight" one.
I realize that pic is a little cluttered; I would have ended up with a different photo if I'd been thinking ahead a bit. It's not the easiest thing to see, but you can see where the sling is attached. I'm using an end plate adapter that's luckily left over from years ago when I had a one point sling (I'd never recommend now). I say "luckily" because that thing has had the crap staked out of it and it's gonna wreck the end plate and the receiver extension lock nut if I ever take it off. The forward sling point is the ACE rail grabber type. I don't have a whole lot of reason for a QD, since I can just dump my arm through the sling and drop the rifle.

The main reason for moving the sling in tight is that it makes the rifle faster and handier to move around. It allows the end of the rail to be "clean" so you can move stuff around if needs be. I only run a light and I don't have a 12" I don't think I'll be moving my light, nor will I be putting an X300 at the 12:00, because I can't. Not sure I would anyway because of the switchology, but that's a separate post. Another reason to sling in tight is that if you have to crank down on the sling to climb a wall or something like that (Yeah, sure...I'll climb a wall. It could happen. *rolling eyes*) the sling is less likely to slide off your body. Not so much a factor for me, probably, but that's a serious consideration for some people so it bears mention. This set up keeps the sling off your gear more than slinging wide does, too.

The downside? The rifle is less stable on the sling, and takes a bit more adjusting to get the length right. I'm still fooling with mine; I think it's a little bit long still. It's kinda nitpicking a little, but the rifle feels "heavier" on the sling. The weight's concentrated more, so physics still work. I gotta put in some more time with it, but I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Plate Rack Time

I got a little tired of explaining why my 6 plate rack times were so horribly slow in the vid I shot for the X300 comparison (the reason is true, I'm just tired of saying it) so I finally figured out how to get this photo off my phone and post it here. This is one of my better ever plate rack runs, but this happened during the day. Distance was about ten yards, from the draw. I think I was using a Sarfariland 6354-DO with a Glock 17 and X300, but I'm not certain of that; could have been a 5189.
I've learned some more about that speed to first shot, and posted about it here a while back. One of these days, I'll get a photo of that run again, with a more reasonable first shot time. I should be able to get that time to about 4, maybe 4.2 or so.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

WBSIB, borrowed from Vuurwapen Blog

I read the original of this on the Vurwaapen Blog and liked the idea, so I decided to do my own spin on it. If you're not reading that blog, you're missing out on some really good stuff.

If I set out to buy one of the following, this is what I would look for as of September 2012. Some things have great alternatives that aren't listed and some things have great alternatives that are listed. Some things I've gotten for free and some things I haven't. Some things might be more or less than you need. But if you ask me a general question about what (blank) to buy, this is probably what I'd recommend.
...a 5.56mm rifle - Colt LE6920. I like the "restricted" roll marks, but the SP is the same model without them and may save some money.
...a .308/7.62x51 rifle - Larue Tactical OBR
...a bolt action rifle - Remington 700. Pick a model; there's a reason this rifle is ubiquitous.
...a shotgun - Remington 870.Have a better reputation for durability vs the Mossberg
...a 22LR rifle - Marlin model 60. My first gun (still have it) was a 60 and I lost track of the round count. It's huge. Accurate and reliable.
...a handgun - Glock 19.
...a handgun for concealed carry - Also a Glock 19
...a holster - IWB: Bianchi 135 Allusion Suppression OWB: Safariland 529 belt slide Tactical: Safariland ALS series
...a non-magnified optic -Aimpoint T1 if you've got the duccats, Aimpoint PRO if you don't
...a fixed power optic for a semi auto rifle - Trijicon TA33/TA11 ACOG.
...a fixed power optic for a bolt action rifle - Bushnell Elite 3200 10X or Leupold M8 4X for hunting rifles
...a variable power optic - Anything German. Maybe a Vortex Viper or Razor if I didn't want the German price tag. AR-15 upgrade - Buffer Technologies Extractor Kit, or BCM/Vltor Gunfighter Charging Handle AR-15 rail - Daniel Defense 12.0 FSP or Troy 13" TRX Xtreme if you want a handguard rather than rail AR-15 magazine - Magpul E Mag
...a knife - Spyderco Endura IV
...a watch -Seiko diver, black bezel or Pepsi bezel
...a flashlight - Surefire X300 Ultra until the replacement head for the Scout comes out
...a flashlight for carry - Surefire E2D LED.
...rifle ammo for killing things - I like Federal Premium, but this isn't my are of expertise
...handgun ammo for killing things - Federal HST. Winchester Ranger T/Ranger Bonded. Speer Gold Dot. Or whatever hollowpoints from an American company are available.
...shotgun ammo for killing things - Federal FliteControl buckshot or Federal slugs.
...practice ammo - Federal Champion. Looks pretty nasty, but QC is excellent. Several thousands of rounds and no problems at all. Wish I could say that about WWB.
...a handgun .22LR conversion - Tactical Solutions
...a rifle .22LR conversion - the .22 AR's are so cheap, why convert?

I’d lke your take on these serious to not so serious questions:
ear / eye protection? Ears: Peltor Comtacs. I believe Sordin Supremes are overall better, but I prefer the sound quality of the Peltors
a durable steel target? Hard to beat TacStrike for value
an AK (or more generally a piston operated rifle)? Had an AK, gave it away to pay a debt. If you want a piston gun, there's the HK 416 and there's everything else.
a cleaning solvent? Hoppe's #9. Doubles as a decent after shave.
a fun range gun? Ruger Mk. II. Far and away the best gun Ruger ever made.
a good online gun forum?  For guns in general? Probably THR. If you want discussions about using them for real, Lightfighter...but it's not for everybody. Some people don't belong there.
a gift to give a dad who likes John Wayne movies? Pick a movie, can't go wrong. My favorites: Rio Bravo, Rio Lobo, El Dorado, The Green Berets, Flying Tigers, The Quiet Man. There are also several very cool documentaries about The Duke's career and life away from his career.

Whaddaya think? What would you choose?

Change in the sling

Got the word from a very good source that there were some major disadvantages to my sling set up, and the opposite sling method had much merit. The difference between them is that the wide sling method works quite well for a flat range scenario, which is pretty much what my rifle gets the most use doing. I'm going to shoot some new photos of the rifle, since I have a new optic on it anyway, and I'll delve a little deeper into what were explained to me to be the upsides of the receiver end points for slinging. The source of that info is a very definite, real deal gunfighter, so at the very least I have to explore it again. More on this soon.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

X300 vs. X300 Ultra

I posted this over at LF, but since not everybody can see it there, I decided to do a C&P onto The Blog That Rarely Gets Updated.

I acquired an X300U yesterday, and took it to the range last night. This light is pretty amazing and you're going to want one.

I brought one of my standard X300's along to compare output to. The standard X300 is one of the newer 170 lumen lights. As many of you know, my math skills are practically non-existent, which of course extends to reading a tape measure. One of the major concerns about the new Ultra is whether or not the extra length was going to be an issue. The X300 from bezel to end of body, minus the tail cap, is just about three inches. The X300U has a crenelated bezel that the X300 doesn't, so I chose to measure it from the peak of a crenelation to get the max length. The same measurement for the Ultra is about 3 3/16 inches.

I have a few holsters that fit pistols with lights, several by Safariland and an older Blade-Tech for an X200, and currently all for Glocks. A couple for the G35, a few for the G17. All fit without issue. The 6354DO fits it especially well, with the mechanical spring ALS unit that holster uses.

The difference in output, 170 lumens for the X300 vs. 500 lumens for the X300 Ultra, is dramatic. It's very difficult to quantify with words, so I put together a short video of a couple of horrible plate rack runs that shows the difference much more clearly.

One thing I continue to find out: fiber optic front sights are useless in the dark; they just disappear. My 45 year old original equipment eyeballs can't see the dang thing. If you're gonna fight with a gun at night (and if you know you never will, share that trick with me), don't use FO front sights. Spend the extra duccats and get a tritium front.

Here's the video I mentioned earlier. I did, in fact, choose the most irritating music that Flip had available:

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Magwell is not a hand grip

This is a pet peeve of mine, because there are companies out there that make parts that cause bad technique. I speaking of plastic crap like the Never Quit grip and similar pieces of polymer poop that which are designed to create a hand hold on the magazine well of a carbine.

Why do I have such a sore spot for this part? Two main reasons. The first is that it enables really terrible technique that isn't even on the same end of the scale of efficient recoil control. In order to keep the muzzle of a rifle under control (which aids in recoil management, which increases both speed and accuracy when it's maximized) two things must happen, and both have to do with leverage. First, ya gotta get the hand as close to being around the barrel as possible, and second, ya gotta get a grip as far forward on the fore end as possible. For proof, do a bit of searching and check out how the best shooters and best instructors in the world shoot. There is variation in technique, but overall, they're shooting in a way that's obviously based on the same technique enough to call it the same for practical purposes. Some search terms for ya: Jerry Miculek rifle, Army Rangers, Delta Force Recruiting Video, Three Gun Rifle, Kyle Lamb, Larry Vickers, Brian Searcy, Kyle Defoor, Tiger Swan, Magpul Dynamics...there are plenty more; you get the idea. Its the way the best shooters in the world shoot, it's how they teach it, if it's not how you shoot, you really should get some instruction, break out the timer, and prove to yourself that it's how you should have been doing it that way all along. Grabbing the mag well is the antithesis of being able to shoot fast and accurately, and it looks dorky, too.

The second reason has to do with safety. Ever seen an AR blow up? Any gun can be blown up; AR's of quality construction (polymer is not quality construction, by the way. Don't go that way.) are exceptionally durable, very safe designs. But, like all modern firearm designs, having them rapidly disassemble in an overpressure situation has been taken into account and designed for. Now, the design work is not complicated; force like water takes the path of least resistance. Where is that path? Its out the bottom of the loaded magazine. Where's the magazine when that happens? In the magwell. If you're grabbing the magwell when that happens, not only are you shooting slower and less accurately than everybody else, you may just blow your hand up. When things go bad, they go bad violently and with no warning. You're not going to be able to do anything about it to stop it or move your mitt. So why have it there in the first place?

Here's the key to the whole thing: don't grab the mag well. It's bad technique, it looks stupid, and it could get you the nickname "Stumpy''. Don't do it.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

can you start at the beginning of the beep?

I noticed something a couple weeks ago, and it was verified at the last match I shot. I started working on it, and have a long way to go, but I think I'm on to something.

I shoot with a timer to give a stimulus that causes me to draw and shoot. I don't have to use it for that, but since I'm gonna be shooting anyway, I might as well get some time data while I'm at it, right? I like having to respond to something rather than choosing the time of shooting; my suspicion is that this is as close as I'm going to be able to get to what might happen in real life when I'm shooting by myself.

One of the first things to notice is that a timer's beep spans a certain amount of time. I suspect mine's about one second long, but I haven't actually looked into it. So, it's got a start, when the buzzer first sounds, and it's got an end, when the buzzer is finished buzzering, right? What I noticed most shooters doing was starting to move at the end of the buzz/beep/zappy sound/whatever, with only the best of them-the master class and the one or two grand masters we see a few times a year-starting their draw as soon as the buzzer starts to sound. Once I started working on that, I noticed that my best runs (and to be clear, there were only a few of them) trimmed a full half second off my times.

At the match a week ago, the number of people who commented "You were shooting a lot better today" or words to that effect was surprising to me. From my perspective I shot about the same as I typically do, with perhaps a little more accuracy than I have previously. But the only reason I didn't win the match is the same reason I usually don't win the match: I'm too slow in running, and there's nothing I can do about that; I've been slow my entire life. The only thing I was doing differently, though, was that I was trying to concentrate on starting to move at the start of the beep.

Now, I'm a never-was and have never been in a gunfight. However, I have several close friends who have, and I can get their impressions on such topics. Speed is an important component of a fight, even a brawl. The guy who's reacting is behind the curve, right? What can be done about that? Seems to me the only option is to shorten the curve, and that could be all the difference. As they say, "you have the rest of your life to figure it out".

The way I worked on it, and this is "a" way and by no means "the" way, so if you have a suggestion I wanna hear it, was to do some dry runs. First I started imagining the buzzer going off, and starting to get my draw going at the beginning of the sound. I then practiced my draw, again trying to get moving as soon as I heard the buzzer. The way I tested this was trying to note where the gun was when the buzzer ended; when I was working it I had the gun partway into presentation when the buzzer stopped. I tried stopping movement a few times when the buzzer ended to see where I was. That's hard to do, and there's so much lag between hearing, processing, and responding to the stimulus that I didn't really take much note of it, and instead just tried to gauge where I was. I think this is where video would be very handy.

Anyway! after a while, I was noticing that my times were improving, and it wasn't because my movements were faster from the hand to the gun to the draw to the presentation. If anything, I was getting slightly slower because it was very hot and humid at the range. It was because I was initiating the movement to get going faster than I had before, and that was entirely because I wasn't waiting for the buzzer to complete before I started moving. What I'm hoping this will assist in doing is that if I have to use my gun for real, I won't be as far behind the curve. I'm hoping that I'm training my brain to process faster. It's smarter than I am, so I expect it'll make a difference in the long run. I just wish I'd started working on this 25 years ago.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Stuff: Safariland ELS kit and belt

Holy cow, an actual new blog post! Bet both my readers didn't think I knew how to do this anymore. I finally have something worth taking the time to write about rather than do something less important...I mean...more important. Everything I do, of course, is crucially important.

I wish.

So I got some gear almost a year ago, and it took quite a while to get it all squared away. Turns out that flexibility costs. LOL! That's the point of this system: it allows you to swap out magazine pouches and holsters on one common platform, just by changing the pouches or holster. One one belt, I can swap between 1911, Glock (19, 17, and 34 in my case) and carbine just by changing out the individual pieces. Once you start doing that, it become clear how flexible the system is.

There's a couple parts to this kit: at its core, its the belt and the ELS (Equipment Locking System) components. The belt is...pre-punched, or pre-drilled...let's say "pre-holed" for descriptive simplicity, to accept the ELS Receiver Plates. The ELS consists of two parts: the receiver plate and the fork. It works on the same principle that a side release buckle does, if the female part of the buckle didn't have full top to it. The receiver plates screw to the belt by way of a domed head Allen screw through the back of the belt, and a blind nut on the receiver plate. You can put 'em wherever you want 'em, and you can cant them if you wish, too.
What's really cool about this system is that it can be adapted to other rigs, too. I have receiver plates attached to Safariland clamshell clips (745 BL, I think, but I may be crazy, too)
to use the ELS system on my Bianchi Border Patrol belt, which is a 2" duty belt with a Cobra-style buckle. It works like a Cobra, but its not AustriAlpin. The AA buckles are the best there are and this one isn't one of them, just to be clear. It is, however, entirely up to the job its being used for. Anyway, I have receiver plates screwed to them so I can use the same magazine pouches that I use on the ELS with that belt...and I have a few, particularly the model 77 rifle magazine pouches, that are set up directly on the 745 BL's. More on that in a moment, I think. I'm getting too far off the trail.

The photo of my belt is one of the few I have of this rig so far, and it doesn't show exactly how I've got it rigged now. Even though I've dropped something over 30 pounds so far this year (believe me, I have PLENTY left to get rid of; I'll be at this for a while!) I still have issues with the forward-most plate when magazines are installed there. If you scroll down a bit on my blog, you'll see my sling set up. With the front end of the sling so far forward, it tends to get hooked on that forward mag pouch. I solved that by rotating pouches to the left, essentially moving them a spot rearward. Solved that problem, but I'd still like to run a mag pouch there for different set ups. Perhaps a horizontal pouch, like the Safariland Competition versions, will do that. I'll get one and check.

I also run the Safariland M774 single M4 mag pouches with ELS forks on 'em, so I have a couple of the dual mag pouches shown in the photo, and a couple M774's. For doing stuff like rifle to pistol transitions, it's outstanding; I don't have to run any other gear unless I need more magazines or if I just want to. There's really nothing that I'm aware of that Safariland makes that holds magazines that can't be used with this system. I even have a 7.62 version of the M774 should I choose to run the belt while shooting my LRT OBR. To quote  Cadet Captain David Shawn from TAPS: "It's beautiful, man!" How's that for an old school reference.

You may have noticed the holster being Multicam in the above photo. That's the not-really-secret-but-very-cool 6354-DO, the DO standing for Docter Optic. I wish I had one, but that'll be for a later date. This version is for the Glock 17/X300.

One of my home boys calls it The Jump Holster, because when you release the ALS lock on it, it jumps into your hand. The springs in this one are mechanical coil springs; much smoother and faster than the older ALS flat spring.

It's on the belt using the Mid Ride UBL (Universal Belt Loop) and the QLS (Quick Locking System) components. The QLS is the father of the ELS, it's bigger, slightly older, stronger parent. The UBL drops the holster off the belt a bit, and the QLS pushes it out some, too. It's roughly duty-holster height and offset, which I have to remind myself of when using it. It's not in the same place my Safariland 529 is.LOL!

Suggestions: you'll probably want a liner belt with this rig. I use the Bianchi 7205, which is run through the belt loops of your pants, and gives a stable platform for the ELS belt to anchor to. I have an idea for an improvement that I plan to try to get done with ATS, but I have no idea how long that'll take to get done; its a question of available production time. Liner belts are only about $20 and worth the investment to hold the belt still. It also means you don't have to be uncomfortable with the ELS belt cranked down around you.

All in all, I'm a huge fan of this system. I keep finding ways to use it and new stuff to use with it. I think Safariland has really nailed the modular concept and now all they have to do is get the marketing department on the same page as the users and advertise it!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My sling set up and why

One of the smarter things I've ever heard is "A sling is a holster for your rifle". Ya gotta have a sling on your carbine, but there are several ways to set 'em up, and there's a plus side and minus side to the various ways to do it. The difference comes down to the intended purpose and the type of use the rifle gets.

To me, there's only one type of sling right now that has the most upside with the least downside, and that's the adjustable two point sling. It can do everything a one point and three point can do, without the downside of those two designs.  My home boy Chris, a 12 year Infantry vet, also made the point that if you have a two point sling, if you get hit and go down, somebody can just throw that rifle on their back and secure it that way. Stuff like the Wolf Hook don't make that possible...and they make your rifle a big pendulum. Trust me, they suck. Don't do that to yourself.

There are a couple ways to set up a sling, with some variations that I find less useful overall but may be driven by necessity. You can attach the sling in close, or as far apart as possible. What's attached to the rail may drive a different method; ya do what ya gotta do.

In close, meaning at the receiver extension side of the rifle, and as close to the barrel nut end of the rail as possible has the advantage of keeping the sling out of the way and has some more flexibility with transitions from shoulder to shoulder. It's a good method for stuff like room clearing or short duration, relatively close shots as a SWAT entry team might encounter. This method makes the two point most like a one point. The downside is that the sling isn't very useful as a shooting aid. This photo belongs to Rob Sloyer. It's amazing how few photos there are of the sling side of Pat's rifle. They're almost all from the right side!

The other method, and the one I settled on after experimenting with every way I could think of, is to sling from the buttstock and as far forward on the rail as possible.

My sling is a two point adjustable from ATS, using Murdock Webbing's Multicam jacquard webbing. We figured this product would be a good test of abrasion resistance for that material. Jacquard is woven in the pattern, the pattern isn't printed on it.

But I regress, or digress, and not progress. The advantage to this method is that the sling can be run all the way out, as it'd usually be done for most uses. The sling can be choked up and used as a shooting aid for long shots, and can be cinched down the rest of the way to pull the rifle to the chest and free the hands for other uses without putting the muzzle in the dirt.

I'm a big fan of Magpul products. However, the one thing I don't like about 'em is that they're designed around the MS sling. While it's convertible from one point to two point, the range of adjustment is very short and it requires slinging off their end plate, the ASAP plate. It's noisy and that irritates me. They make a pretty good adapter for the stock I run, the ACS, which uses a heavy Duty QD sling swivel and screw-on socket.
The downside to that part is that it's not rotation-limited. I've considered a couple different ways to accomplish that, but haven't come up with a really good solution for that yet. The real solution would be for it to come that way from the factory.

My forward sling mount is a 1 1/2 inch Ace rail grabber. I don't have need of a QD swivel there, and it's a lower profile mount than a QD is. If you do need a QD, do yourself a huge favor and make sure it's a rotation limited mount, like the Daniel Defense part.

I haven't gotten around to trimming the sling yet, but I will. I just wrapped the excess with some Velcro wrap stuff from an old 6004 holster. If anything, I have the sling adjusted a bit long now and need to take up a little more slack in the adjustable end.

I've run both VTAC and Blue Force Gear VCAS slings, and like them both. I have a slight preference towards the VTAC as it has a greater range of adjustment and is somewhat easier to adjust...although not enough so that I wouldn't run a VCAS and be perfectly happy with it. VTAC slings are, in my limited experience, easier to adjust when the sling gets dirty, muddy and cruddy.  Padded vs. non-padded comes down to what you're doing with it. If it's going to be run over armor, don't bother with the pad; it's just bulk that doesn't help ya. If you don't usually wear armor, then the padded one is a good choice, although I don't notice enough difference between them to really make it a point to get the padded one. I had a padded VTAC on my rifle before I started testing the current one, but honestly I can't tell much difference between 'em. 

why have a blog if ya don't blog?

I've figured it out. The reason I don't blog more often is that most of the stuff I consider posting on require pictures. I have something against shooting and editing pictures; there's something not fun about it. Probably because my 'puter is slow and those tasks can't be done instantaneously.

Rather than not blogging, though, I'm gonna try to shoot some pics and create some posts. I have a few things that I'm planning comments on: why I set my sling up the way I did, the Safariland ELS belt system and jump holster. Maybe some comments about how much money I have in guns and gear and how I still suck with a gun. We'll see what I can do to show that.

I have a need to practice writing more than I do. Not writing makes me rusty and it takes longer to get what I need from it. I'm hopeful that I can make better use of this place in order to accomplish part of my job more efficiently. 'Course, things could easily keep going along at the snail's pace that they do already, too.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

2012 Tactical Trends? Look at 2011

I've been pondering lately what's likely to be the next big trend or trends in the industry. I thought I might see them at SHOT in about ten days, but then I saw the schedule for working the booth, and I'm not sure there'll be much opportunity to see any significant amount of the show. Must be nice to work for a big ol' company that spends a million dollars on SHOT and the reps don't have to spend all their time in the booth. Some of 'em, I kinda wonder if they brought their reps to the show. The marketing department folks who try very hard but can't answer any product questions seem to make up most of the booth people.

But I egress, or something. This year's trends will probably continue. The economy is growing by a tiny percentage, unemployment is still way high, and prices are up. That'll probably mean there will be very little truly new this year. Companies just aren't gonna sink a bunch of development money in uncertain times.

We'll see more AR's. That wouldn't be a bad thing if there were more duty-quality AR's, but there aren't; commercial junk still rules the overall market. We'll also see the "carry" market expanding. I'm of two minds on that point. On the one hand, I'd prefer that law abiding citizens carry than not, and little guns make that happen since so few people will change anything about their lives to accommodate the carriage of a gun that's easier to fight with. Those that know me know that I despise the trend in pocket guns. Can't manipulate 'em, their sights are practically nonexistent and they have crappy capacity. Unfortunately, this trend is alive and well and will continue with more crappy guns that are seven round straight blowback .380's and clunky, small-yet-ungainly 9mm's. They're a money maker, so they'll keep being made. Note that SnW is making their version of that ultimate bad idea The Judge, calling it the Governor or something. Yeah, those damn things are here to stay, too.

What'll we see in tactical gear? The trend toward lightweight continues. Lite Lok fabric will make some inroads, but until the price comes down, 500D will still be the standard. We're gonna do some stuff with it, but a RAID II in Lite Lok is gonna be quite a bit more expensive. With budgets shrinking, there's gonna be a cap on how much this stuff gets used; don't expect to see big dollar items like armor carriers being sold in really big numbers. Even the SOF side of the house is going to see significant reductions in what they can spend. Why pay a premium if there's a similar, nearly-as-good solution?

The next big change will be whatever the Army decides to do with their next pattern. What should happen and what will happen will probably be different. I gotta admit to being surprised that Multicam was chosen as the Afghanistan pattern. But since ACU-Delta wasn't chosen there doesn't mean it's dead. It's what makes the most sense: the pattern isn't the problem with ACU, it's the coloration. All they have to do is take the pattern that they already own and change the colors. That may not be what happens, though. Regardless of what they choose, there's gonna be a lot of ACU gear and clothing that nobody will buy unless it's at sub-giveaway prices (and not even then) once the new pattern comes out. Police departments will use it because they'll get it free through the DRMO system. They won't pay anything for the gear in ACU because cops are notoriously cheap. It figures; they don't make a lot of money.

So, I guess the summation of all this is that the trends for this year will just be the trends of last year. Stand pat and see what happens will be the rule of the day. Kind of a bummer, really.